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26th Rhythm World Festival Spotlights Generations of Talent This Month

Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), which creates community through American tap and contemporary percussive arts in world-class, innovative performance, education and outreach programs, presents the 26th annual Rhythm World. The oldest and most comprehensive festival of American tap and contemporary percussive arts in the world takes place tonight, July 5, through July 24 at CHRP's American Rhythm Center in Chicago's historic Fine Arts Building, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Jazz Showcase. Rhythm World is presented in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

In the first year of a five-year cycle, CHRP's annual summer festival, directed by CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander, shines the spotlight on the talented performers, choreographers and teachers who have "grown up" with CHRP and the masters who first inspired them.

"The children and teens who studied with us 10 to 20 years ago are not children anymore," said Alexander. "They are winning MacArthur Fellowship (Genius) Awards (Michelle Dorrance), choreographing on Broadway and with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (Jared Grimes), performing in historic Broadway revivals (Lee Howard and Karissa Royster) and making new works that are changing our art form forever (Jumaane Taylor's Supreme Love and Zada Cheeks' Diabolus). We are devoting the next several years to exploring their experiences-who inspired them and why-as well as how that inspiration is affecting the work they are creating now. We'll provide them with classrooms and theaters to pass this inspiration to new dancers and dance audiences."

JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance and other performances Opening the final week of Rhythm World is a performance by Rhythm World faculty accompanied by a jazz trio Monday, July 18 at 8 p.m. at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court. On Tuesday, July 19, Rhythm World students perform a showcase at 8 p.m. at Curtiss Hall in the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue.

The JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance concerts, the crowning events of Rhythm World, feature a host of extraordinary foot drummers and percussive arts masters July 20-23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago Avenue.

The programs are as follows:

Wednesday, July 20--The next generation of tap talent from across the country, including the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, Northwest Tap Exchange and Footprints Tap Ensemble, show their best moves as part of the Youth Tap Ensemble Conference's 15th Anniversary concert. CHRP presents the legendary Maurice Hines with its JUBA! Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Field. Proceeds from this special evening will support CHRP's Tap Scholar program, which provides scholarships to talented, deserving youth.

Thursday, July 21 and Saturday, July 23--Headlining two nights, Jumaane Taylor and M.A.D.D. Rhythms perform Supreme Love to the beats of Afrika Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation and the eternal music of John Coltrane, played live by soprano saxophonist Rajiv Halim and his quartet. On Thursday, July 21, CHRP's resident ensemble BAM! reprises Prisms by Lane Alexander and premieres work by BAM!'s own Marty Bronson and Zada Cheeks. On Saturday, July 23, the Institute For The Rhythmic Arts premieres a work by Bessie Award winner Nicholas Young.

Friday, July 22--In a one-night-only engagement, the performer Groundhog expands the musical and social exchange of tap in a multi-generational ensemble work originally created as a solo. He pairs an exploration of historical hoofer Earl "Groundhog" Basie and other historical figures with Linda Sohl Ellison, whose performance marks her the 35th season of her company, Rhapsody in Taps, accompanied by Monti Ellison and the Eric Hochberg Trio.

Tickets for the July 20 performance, a fundraiser for the Tap Scholar Award program, are $50 and $100. Call 312-542-2477 or visit Tickets to the "JUBA!" performances are $25-35 and go on sale May 25, National Tap Dance Day.Call 312-397-4010 or visit Performances sell out every year, early purchase is advised. All programming is subject to change.

Each year, CHRP awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to deserving, talented teens so they may participate in Rhythm World. This year, 20 studentswill earn tuition support through auditions in Chicago and around the globe (Tokyo, Zurich, Rio, Stuttgart and Toronto).

"These scholarships support CHRP's mission to build community by bringing together students from different backgrounds and places to meet their international peers and study with great and emerging masters," said Alexander.

Established in 1995 to honor the life of CHRP Co-Founder Kelly Michaels, the Rhythm World Tap Scholar Award program has provided more than $300,000 in financial aid to more than 300 talented, deserving young dancers from Chicago and throughout the United States as well as international exchange students. Education programs.

Returning this year after its successful debut in 2014 is Nicholas Young's Institute For The Rhythmic Arts (IFTRA), which provides up to 25 students (selected by application and audition) with a one-of-a-kind experience for emerging young professionals: a three-week (July 5-23) intensive program for advanced and professional tap dancers that integrates foot, hand and body percussion led by STOMP alumnus and tap dancer extraordinaire Nicholas Young, MacArthur Fellowship (Genius Award) and Princess Grace Award winner Michelle Dorrance, STOMP star John Angeles, CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander, percussive artist Jumaane Taylor and more.

Intensive residencies, courses, workshops and master classes take place July 11-24. The highly respected faculty of master teachers includes international guest Yukiko Misumi from Japan along with acclaimed U.S. masters who have taught at the festival throughout its 26 years: Lane Alexander, Maud Arnold, Bril Barrett, Martin Bronson, Ayodele Casel, Zada Cheeks, Star Dixon, Martin "Tre" Dumas, Monti Ellison, Donnetta Jackson, Glenn Leslie, Monternez Rezell, Nico Rubio, Linda Sohl-Ellison, Jumaane Taylor, Sam Weber and Cartier Williams.

The Kids Program July 19-22 offers intermediate tappers ages nine through 12 a curriculum including oral and video histories, tap technique classes, improvisation instruction and individual development of style and expressive ability. The Adult Program July 18-21 offers intermediate-level classes and a seminar each day.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, CHRP's Youth Tap Ensemble Conference (YTEC) and ninth annual PrepTECtake place July 18-22. YTEC is the world's most comprehensive program available to tap ensembles. Students work with masters on technique and improvisation, meet with specialists regarding related disciplines and learn new choreography. PrepTEC offers the same opportunities for study to younger tap dancers. More than 130 dancers between the ages of 12 and 19, representing 10 youth tap ensembles from the U.S., gather to study new choreography, technique, improvisation and theatre-related topics. This year's YTEC and PrepTEC participants learn original choreographies from Linda Sohl-Ellison, Nico Rubio and Starinah Dixon. All education programs take place at the American Rhythm Center, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. To register, visit, call 312-542-CHRP (2477) or write to

For complete Rhythm World information, visit or call 312-542-CHRP (2477).

Chicago Human Rhythm Project For 25 years, Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) has helped to foster the revival of American tap dance throughout North and South America, Australia, Europe and Asia. CHRP presents the oldest and largest annual festival of American tap and percussive dance in the world-Rhythm World-and has expanded through community outreach, ongoing education programs in public elementary and high schools, commissions of new work, innovative conferences for the field and a commitment to social reconciliation and local investment. CHRP led the development of Chicago's shared dance/arts space, the American Rhythm Center, which offers daily dance classes for children, teens, adults and seniors.

During the last 25 years, CHRP has educated and performed globally for millions of people; received an Emmy Award nomination, as well as national airings, for JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance, which was co-produced with ITVS and WTTW/Channel 11; earned an NEA American Masterpieces grant administered by the Illinois Arts Council Agency; curated the first full-length tap concert in any of the Kennedy Center's three largest theaters for a sold-out audience of 1,100 in the Eisenhower Theater; provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in tap dance scholarships to more than 300 deserving, talented teens; and, most recently, led a collaborative effort to establish a shared dance/arts space in the center of the Chicago Cultural Mile: the American Rhythm Center (ARC). CHRP's vision is to establish the first global center for American tap and percussive arts, which will create a complete ecosystem of education, performance, creation and community in a state-of-the-art facility uniting generations of diverse artists and the general public. For information, visit

Pictured: Ayodele Casel, Nicholas Young?

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